The anime effect in music videos
With social distancing becoming a norm and musicians still writing new songs, we predict a rise in animated music videos
Remember the song Feel Good Inc by British band Gorillaz in 2005? That song may have been most ’90s kids’ introduction to animated videos and dispelled the whole ‘anime is just meant for children’ notion (at least in India), as they weaved a unique story and created an entire world with their music videos. The power of animation was and remains their USP.
The same power that musicians closer home are turning to now as they release their lockdown recordings in the middle of a pandemic. Because, the show must go on, right? While Gorillaz had artist Jamie Hewlett as a part of their ensemble, indie musicians are looking at collaborating with artists, graphic designers and animators whose works have caught their eye or those whose art they’ve admired from afar. Till now. One of the best parts about this evolution? Seems like women are dominating the scene currently. We speak to four ladies who are adding to the magic with their unique specialisations – live animation, photography-based videos, abstract content and character-based styles.
Through the lens
It started with a knack for photography for Mumbaikar, Parizad D, 10 years ago. “I would click photographs as a way to process my emotions,” says the visual artist, who brought Parekh and Singh’s Karma Police video to life last month.
It was only in her teens that she had exposure to anything non-Bollywood – the first animated music video she watched was a fan video for the acoustic version of Creep by Radiohead by Laith Bahrani. Most of her inspiration still comes from photographers though, which remains her foundation for animation. “I am a Tim Walker fan. His penchant for the absurd and the fantastical is something I find myself unwittingly leaning towards,” she says.
Hello, imaginary friend
“For Karma Police, Nischay Parekh expressed an interest in “Bob,” my imaginary quarantine buddy who I’d been making a series of short videos with to express my state of mind during the lockdown. I felt the song called for a lot of stillness and repetition – much like what life was at that point of time,” she explains.
Parizad says she enjoys working with abstract narratives as he likes the balance between the layers of depth they add to any body of work while still being open enough to be freely interpreted. “I like working with cinemagraphs, time lapses and stop motion. I think we could all do with questioning what we perceive to be our reality, you know? Pushing the envelope, watching it bend and what not,” she adds.
Little miss sunshine
Fascinated by vivid colours and patterns for as long as she can recall, 24-year-old Mehek Malhotra’s interest in live animation stems from her love for colours and drawing. “People’s attention span increases when you see movement. Animation is no longer just tweaks to salvage odd light reflections in videos, but has added colourful surrealism and makes the video look more engaging,” says Mehek, who started Giggling Monkey Studio that focuses on live animation, and recently did a video for Kenny Sebastian as well as musician Raghav Meattle.
While a lot of inspiration comes from the likes of Vallée Duhamel, BlinkMyBrain (Ariel Costa), Kate Moross and Daniel Sax, it’s THE GAP by Ira Glass and The Maccabees’ No Kind Words that inspire her live animation videos. “My colour palette formed early on, when we were living in Rajasthan. And what I draw are everyday things, like matchboxes, but in a different perspective,” Mehek explains.
“I listen to the artiste and observe them listening to their own song, so I know which parts mean more to them. Those parts will be highlighted visually,” says Mehek, whose synesthesia also plays a role, because she sees colours in sounds.
Live animation works for Mehek. It goes with her messy style. “A completely animated video would look too messy in my style. And I can’t draw a straight line, which I now use to my advantage – ghich pich crooked lines are my signature. As is yellow, my favourite colour,” she says, adding that live animation is coming in handy during lockdown as it allows you to add elements to something you’ve shot at home.
It’s because freelance illustrator and animator Ishita Thawait also sings and composes her own songs occasionally that music and art blend together for her. And so she started animating lyrical videos of her favourite indie artistes before she made her debut with the video of Watercolour, a song by Sanjeeta Bhattacharya and Dhruv Visvanath, last month.
The logo animation in the music video of Fell in Love With a Girl by The White Stripes was what sparked Ishita’s interest in animation, hints of which are visible in her works. Seth MacFarlane’s The Family Guy, which was his college project that turned into a massive show, and Stephen Hillenburg’s Spongebob Squarepants guided her colour palette, while Mukesh Singh’s rendition of The Mahabharata instilled the curiosity to explore abstract art.
Sense and sensibility
“I listen to the song 25 times and think about how it makes me feel, which gives me a colour scheme,” Ishita shares. “It’s crucial to remember that it has to make sense to all sorts of people in the audience as well as fellow artistes.”
“People call my work trippy,” is how Ishita describes her works that blends surrealism with details she observes around her. “I love artwork that has a lot of noise and contrast, and lots of lines, kind of like Vincent Van Gogh. I think of my work as giving people a nice trip without them doing any drugs!” says the 20-year-old.
Let technology lead
Twenty three-year-old Mehr Chatterjee, who runs her own animation studio (Improper.tv), merged music and her art for her first animation project in college.
While she caught up on videos from the 1980s and ’90s, Evolution by Pearl Jam, One More Time by Daft Punk and The Music Scene by Blockhead have had the most impact on her work.
But it’s still difficult to convince people to opt for animation today. “A lot of marketers think animation is a niche and that people can’t connect emotionally to the medium. Any Satoshi Kon or Studio Ghibli movie should be enough to silence that train of thought. But things are changing, with videos like Exit Strategy by Sandunes and Ekta Golpo by Tajdar Junaid,” she says.
With Rebirth, Komorebi’s April release, Mehr let the technology lead. “We wanted to explore 2D character animation through motion tracking so we pitched the idea to Tarana Marwah (Komorebi). We finalised the character (called Kiane). Then Tarana came over and we used her expressions and movement to do some face and motion tracking. Finally, we edited and composited the footage and animation,” says Mehr.
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From HT Brunch, October 04, 2020
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